- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

CALEDONIA, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s most southeastern county is moving toward banning silica sand mining.

The Houston County Board gave the ban preliminary approval by a 5-0 vote Wednesday and is expected to make it final on Tuesday.

Silica sand from Minnesota and Wisconsin is in high demand from oil-and-gas industry, which uses it for hydraulic fracturing.

Houston County has had a silica sand mining moratorium for about three years. It expires next month. The proposed ordinance would still allow sand mining for local construction or agricultural purposes.

The county attorney will review the language before the final vote.

Wednesday’s final public hearing attracted a long line of commenters, nearly all of them opposing sand mining because of concerns about potential health impacts and damage to the scenic bluffs and groundwater in the county.

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